For the first time in its storied history, the Hugo Awards will honor a video game. The annual literary award has avoided recognizing the medium for years, but present circumstances being what they are, it will make an exception at the next World Science Fiction Convention in 2021. As you might have guessed, the about-face came out of the coronavirus pandemic, and more specifically the amount of time most in the sci-fi and fantasy communities have spent playing video games in lockdown.
In 2021, there's going to be a Hugo Award For Best Video Game.— DisCon III - The 79th Worldcon (@worldcon2021) November 23, 2020
The DisCon III committee has chosen to create this special category for 2021 only, as provided for by the rules of the World Science Fiction Society.#HugoAwards
“Since early 2020, many of us have spent more time gaming than we ever expected. This award will offer fans an opportunity to celebrate the games that have been meaningful, joyful and exceptional over this past year,” said Collette Fozard, the co-chair of the 79th World Science Fiction Convention, which will be held in Washington DC in August. As with the literary award, the video games category will award the best science fiction or fantasy work from the previous year. So expect games like Half-Life Alyx and Cyberpunk 2077 (provided it doesn’t miss its release date again) to get consideration.
As things stand, video games won’t be an ongoing fixture at the Hugo Awards. That’s not unusual. The awards have consistently experimented with categories. In 2002 and 2005, for instance, it gave out awards to the best websites, but hasn’t done so since. The good news is that the Hugo Study Committee will consider adding a permanent Best Game or Interactive Experience category, and there’s a strong case to be made for their inclusion.